August 30, 2011

Perfect Storm

The impact of Irene was predicted to be especially threatening for us – arguably one of the most vulnerable buildings in lower Manhattan.  Meetings at Battery Park City Authority on Friday morning  imparted the warning of an 8 to 12 foot surge combined with the effects of heavy rain, high tide, and a full moon, which led us to take significant precautions against the storm.

Sandbags headed for the harborside door
Museum Staff de-installing artifacts in Core Exhibition

We deployed sandbags at the most threatened points of the building. We de-installed the first floor of the core exhibition, moved all electronics (including security x-ray machines) from the first floor, relocated stock from the floor of the book store, and secured the piano and all sensitive audio and lighting equipment  from Edmond J. Safra Hall.  To accomplish these major tasks, we closed the Museum at noon, and the entire staff pitched in.  On Saturday and during the storm itself, four colleagues from Security and Operations remained in the Museum to continue our preparations and mitigate any damage that we might sustain. 

Empty Case

I am pleased to report that, with the exception of some minor leaks on the 4th floor of the Robert M. Morgenthau Wing and in the Rotunda Gallery in the original building, we had no damage and –notably – there was no infiltration of water on the first floor or in the basement.
On Monday, with concerted effort, we reversed the process we had engaged in on Friday, returned the Museum to working condition, and welcomed our first guests shortly after 10:00 am. 

Although most of our precautions turned out -- thankfully-- to be unneeded, they were a necessary and prudent response to the threat that was presented.  I am enormously proud of our staff for their herculean efforts over the past few days. They demonstrated once again that they are our most precious resource.

For her drama and restraint (in our case), Irene will remain in my memory as the perfect storm. 

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